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3%: Static

"Great help, isn't it? Spreading the promise of a better life that almost no one will achieve."

This episode was an examination of how faith shapes a society and its members.

The parallels were pretty obvious: donating money to the church; raising your kids in the ways of the Lord the Founding Couple; waiting for the return of Jesus the Founding Couple (that one was really on the nose); having your friend beg you to return to church instead of falling down Satan the Cause's hole. And Fernando snapping at everyone parallels all those times when I was younger and wanted to do the same thing.

Despite its obviousness, what this episode depicted is an easy sell for me. I used to be a fervent Christian (I was raised to become a pastor) and had a falling out with faith for a myriad of reasons, so Fernando's journey is one I sympathize with. Once he returns from the Process, the ticket to the Promised Land and also the event that opened his eyes to the truth of reality, he is filled with anger and has a quarrel with his father. As it usually happens, the anger subsides and Fernando comes to terms with his dad, but their final debate shows that there will always be an underlying conflict. His father believes that Fernando's faith will be restored, while Fernando bets on the opposite: that his dad will wake up to reality one day. In the end, Fernando lands the strongest point: it's a waste of time to change the way people think.

Before Fernando reaches that placid way of living his truth, though, he is cowardly attacked by zealots. Beating up a wheelchair person? Really? That's exhibit A of how a religion can ruin people's morals while making them believe they are standing on a high moral ground. Doublethink, George Orwell would call it.

While thinking about the scenario presented in this episode, I wondered if the degree to which the inlanders believe in the Process is plausible. They are indoctrinated from infancy, yes, but 97% of them don't pass the Process. Shouldn't there be more people rebelling or at least doubting the system? Perhaps. But in the real world, those who have a strong religious belief are so inclined to defend their faith and never question it that they will always find a way around a possible conflict. After all, the doctrine is never wrong, men and women are. The doctrine never fails, men and women do. From that perspective, the reality that 3% depicts is accurate.

But the show doesn't criticized the Christian side of faith only. The Cause is on its way of killing hundreds of innocents, all under the vision of Silas, a zealot of his own beliefs. He even runs a raffle to pick the person who will carry the bombs into the Process, and the chosen one is honored to carry the mission. It's horrifying, a humanity derailing that Joana is unable to stop. I really appreciate this episode for displaying the worst aspects of the world's two biggest religions. I'm often annoyed at people who try to defended the meddling of churches in State affairs by saying "oh, but Muslims do much worse, why aren't you criticizing them?", as if that were a valid defense. So, thank you, episode, for sparing yourself, and us, of that cheap counterargument.

With the Cause being the epicenter of a clash of different visions, the reunion of the four main characters happened earlier than I expected it would. Silas was right on the money that Michele was not working for the Cause anymore, but his rushing into action without a second thought is tiring. Instead of trying to kill her, why not capture Michele and learn what she knows? Thankfully, he is a bad shot and both Michele and Fernando escaped unharmed.

Michele and Fernando's encounter was a quietly powerful moment. Michele's reaction to Fernando being with the Cause made me think that she truly cares about him after all, even if she doesn't fully reciprocate the feelings he developed for her in their Process. It's curious that they both want the same thing – to prevent the bombing from happening – but their belonging to different places now and responding to different people might keep them from speaking the same language and defeating the real enemy.

Bits and Pieces

- Ezequiel now knows that Rafael is with the Cause. Another thing I didn't expect this soon.

- Fernando came up with a much better plan to take down the Process than the Cause did. How about that? You can beat the enemy without planning to take out innocent lives in the, uh, process.

- It would be a nice touch to have Fernando's father receive advantages from the Offshore to keep the church going. There are honest religious leaders in the world, but they are easily outnumbered by those who use people's faith to prosper. I don't see the show going there, though, because Fernando's father doesn't seem to have any advantage compared to other inlanders.

- Fernando tried to convince Glória to not undertake the Process, and not only didn't she listen to him, she took offense at his plea.

- I didn't really understand what Elisa did to fix Glória's chip.

- The Old Man is still alive. He forgave Michele for giving up his location and he asked for her forgiveness for lying to her about her brother. I just don't care about the Old Man, he is barely a character up to this point.

- Ezequiel introduced Michele to the ritual of head immersing.

- I wonder if Silas was eligible to become the suicide bomber.

- The clothing of the Offshore guards is just... lame. Rafael looked like a child in it.

- Let's talk about what really matters: Michelle's overalls are gorgeous.


Silas: "For the Cause!?"
Everyone: "For the Cause!"
Joana: "I'm against it."

Joana: "New girlfriend?"
Fernando: "New girlfriend? No, we've known each other for years. What are you talking about?"
Joana: "Too bad. You look like you need one."

The writing could have been a little sharper, but this was a good episode overall. Two and a half out of four radios.

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